I prefer landing on land than at sea. All that waving and bobbing can make one sea sick.
This is a discussion on International/Military/ Commercial Space news within the Members' Club Room forums, part of the China Defense & Military category; The rocket boost is only for land landing, as currently that is the only option for China. US which lands ...
The rocket boost is only for land landing, as currently that is the only option for China. US which lands their astronauts on water in the Apollo series don't have rocket boost.
I wonder if they will switch to landing in water once they had a couple of carriers/LHD.
Also, China is very advanced when calculating trajectory of space objects. Their prediction of asteroid paths and ground bound object crash point are more accurate than US and Russian estimates. Shenzhou landings are controlled in a much more narrower range than comparable landings from other countries
I prefer landing on land than at sea. All that waving and bobbing can make one sea sick.
It should be noted that the Orion capsule is connected the Space Launch system. To be Frank I am not a fan. The program seems at first good but then you look at the launch schedule planed, and the cost of the system. I would place my money on SpaceX and it's Dragon Rider capsule.
There is no great genius without a mixture of madness.
Download High Resolution
Download High Resolution
NORFOLK (Aug. 15, 2013) An Orion capsule floats before being towed into the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) during an exercise as part of NASA's first key Orion stationary recovery test at Naval Station Norfolk. NASA is partnering with the U.S. Navy to develop procedures to recover the Orion capsule and crew after splashdown. (U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Scott Barnes/Released)
Download High Resolution
Download High Resolution
NORFOLK (Aug. 15, 2013) Sailors aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) recover an Orion capsule into the well deck of Arlington during an exercise as part of NASA's first key Orion stationary recovery test at Naval Station Norfolk. (U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Scott Barnes/Released)
Download High Resolution
NORFOLK (Aug. 15, 2013) Sailors aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) deploy a rigid-hull inflatable boat during an exercise as part of NASA's first key Orion stationary recovery test at Naval Station Norfolk. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Scott Barnes/Released)
a day before.
The very next dayOPINIONAugust 13, 2013, 7:48 p.m. ET
Robert Zimmerman: No Liftoff for These Space Flights of Fancy
Both parties excel at feigning interest in space exploration for the purpose of justifying pork to their districts.
MORE IN OPINION »
By ROBERT ZIMMERMAN
On July 18, the future of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration became all too clear. Forget journeys to the stars. Space exploration is now clearly tethered to the earthly desires of politicians. The result is that America's incoherent space program is unable to accomplish anything except spend money the federal government doesn't have.
We saw the process at work in budget negotiations in the House, where politicians divided along partisan lines in the vote over NASA's budget. The Democrats and NASA were pushing to fund a proposed asteroid mission, whereby an unmanned spacecraft in 2018 would capture an asteroid, and bring it closer to Earth so that astronauts could visit it in 2021. This mission was created by NASA to fulfill President Obama's 2010 commitment that the U.S. send humans to an asteroid by 2025.
Not surprisingly, all 17 Democrats on the House Science committee voted for this budget plan.
But the Republicans in Congress don't want NASA to capture an asteroid. They want to reactivate George W. Bush's proposal from 2004 that was canceled by Mr. Obama in 2010. President Bush wanted humans go back to the moon and use that as a springboard for going to Mars. All 22 Republicans on the committee voted against the asteroid mission.
Each party claims that its proposal is the best way for the U.S. to lead the way in exploring the solar system. Neither of these plans will ever get off the launch pad.
The pattern has repeated itself over the past four decades. A president, whether it is Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush or Barack Obama, makes a Kennedy-like declaration about America's next major goal in space. Sometimes it is building a space station by the end of the decade. Sometimes it is going to the moon by some set date. Sometimes it is going to an asteroid.
Congress and the president use the announcement as a justification for sending pork to their districts, and steer a little money to the project to get it going. When the really big funding is needed to actually build it, however, these politicians chicken out. The way NASA has been designed—by these same politicians, and with numerous facilities in as many congressional districts as possible—makes building anything by NASA ungodly expensive, far more expensive than even our most spendthrift politicians can stomach.
So they cancel it. A new president makes a new declaration and new goal, and the cycle begins anew. The pork rolls out, a new project begins, some money gets spent, and nothing gets built.
That's what happened with President Reagan's space station, Freedom, in the 1980s. After a decade of spending billions on blueprints, the project was unceremoniously canceled by Bill Clinton. Similarly, we spent about $9 billion on President Bush's moon-bound Constellation program, only to have President Obama cancel it. Now we have Mr. Obama's asteroid mission, opposed by Republicans who still want to send Americans to the moon.
Both parties, however, are in agreement about one thing. When President Obama canceled Constellation, Congress stepped forward to demand that NASA continue to build some variation of Constellation's rockets and Orion capsule. Thus we now have the Space Launch System, or SLS, a heavy-lift rocket for launching the Orion capsule and tons of other material beyond Earth orbit, supposedly capable of sending astronauts either to the moon or the asteroids.
Both parties in Congress want SLS because that is the pork for all their space dreams. SLS, costing a minimum of $3 billion per year, also uses as much of the leftover infrastructure of the space shuttle as possible, which means the thousands of NASA employees and contractors who operated the shuttle will continue to have jobs.
This is why Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, both of Utah, were so happy when they helped force Space Launch System approval through Congress back in 2010. The SLS was required to use some version of the space shuttle's solid-rocket boosters—whether this made engineering sense or not—and those boosters were built in Utah. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R., Texas) and Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) also celebrated SLS's passage, as the project would maintain otherwise no-longer-needed shuttle jobs at the Johnson Space Center in Texas and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
When it is finished, the Space Launch System is expected to launch only once every four years, with a total cost per launch of about $14 billion. This is only the launch cost—including the annual operating expenses as well as the amortized cost of designing and building the rocket and capsule—and does not include the cost for any missions. Again, that's $14 billion per launch, almost equal to NASA's entire annual budget. And the launches will only happen once every four years.
The good news is that the SLS will never fly. When it comes time to actually finance the actual missions, Congress will once again balk. SLS will get canceled, the next president will step forward and make a new proposal, and the whole pork-laden process of waste will begin anew.
In other words, what both parties are really doing is faking a goal for the purpose of justifying pork to their districts.
If these politicians really cared about our country, they could focus instead on doing things that would actually foster the creation of a healthy and robust aerospace industry.
They would go back to the model that Congress used back in the 1920s and 1930s in trying to jump-start the aviation business. Congress didn't dictate what airplanes to build or missions to fly. Congress needed the U.S. mail delivered, and hired airplane companies to deliver it. These companies were then able to use the profits earned from those government contracts to upgrade their airplanes and sell those improved products to others besides the federal government. The result was a robust aviation industry serving millions of private customers, with the needs of the federal government quite trivial in comparison.
Similarly, the federal government needs to get cargo and humans to the international space station. It should buy those services from companies like SpaceX and Sierra Nevada and Orbital Sciences ORB +0.11% . These companies have already been developing space ships and rockets for one-tenth of the cost of the Space Launch System. For example, the entire cost to develop, build and launch SpaceX's Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket was about the same as NASA spends every year trying to design the Space Launch System. Similarly, Orbital Sciences developed the Antares rocket and Cygnus capsule for as little.
So get the politicians and the bureaucrats out of space exploration. Leave it to these private companies and the citizenry. Not only would we get our rockets and spaceships for a price we can afford, we would end up having a potent private industry in space, competing for business and taking Americans where they want to go, efficiently and freely.
Mr. Zimmerman writes about space history and science at his website, Behind the Black. His 1999 book "Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8" has just been released in an e-book edition.
NASA Audit Warns More Delays, Cost Growth are Possible for Orion
By Dan Leone | Aug. 15, 2013
The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle depicted atop the Space Launch System rocket in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Credit: NASA artist's concept
WASHINGTON — While managers of NASA’s Orion deep-space crew capsule program have made the best of a difficult budget environment, their coping strategy ultimately could cause delays and cost increases, an internal agency audit concluded.
In a report released Aug. 15, NASA’s Office of the Inspector General said there is a price to be paid for developing major systems of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle piecemeal rather than simultaneously.
“We believe it vital that Congress and the public recognize that incremental spacecraft development is not an optimal way to sustain a human space program,” NASA Inspector General Paul Martin wrote in the report. “[D]elaying critical development tasks in complex spaceflight development programs increases the risk of cost and schedule problems and causes development of critical technologies to be deferred to later program phases when integration may be more difficult or the costs of material and labor greater.”
Orion is the crew-carrying piece of NASA’s deep-space transportation system, the first such system the agency has set about building since the Apollo era. Orion’s intended carrier rocket is the heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS), an initial variant of which is slated to loft two Orion missions to lunar space in 2017 and 2021. Only the latter mission would be crewed.
Orion and SLS draw heavily on hardware designs for the Moon-bound Constellation program that the White House canceled in 2010. Congress subsequently ordered NASA to build the vehicles using any space shuttle and Constellation contracts that could practically be adapted for the work.
NASA obliged, but with shrinking budgets and a continuing obligation to other programs, such as sending crew and cargo to the international space station, the agency has had to slow-roll some of the Orion and SLS work.
The new report warned that this approach has already delayed tests on critical Orion subsystems and may well delay more. The agency’s watchdog pointed to two particular delays to make its point.
First, the report said Orion’s maiden spaceflight, a stress test for the craft’s heat shields, was delayed from 2013 to September 2014. In that test, Orion will be placed into orbit by a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket and then sent on a steep re-entry trajectory to simulate the stresses the craft would experience on a direct return from lunar orbit.
Second, the report noted that a test of Orion’s launch abort system, which would propel astronauts to safety if something goes wrong during the ascent to space, has been delayed by four years due to budget pressure. The test was originally scheduled for 2015.
The high-altitude test of the abort system, which ATK Aerospace of Magna, Utah, is providing as a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin, will be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., on a converted Peacekeeper missile stage prepared by Orbital Sciences Corp., Dulles, Va.
Besides these two tests, “NASA has delayed development of life support systems and some avionics due to budget constraints,” the report said.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver got its $6.1 billion Orion prime contract in 2006 and had spent $5.1 billion as of Sept. 30 2012, NASA spokeswoman Rachel Kraft said. The contract runs through September 2014, and NASA and Lockheed Martin are negotiating an extension that would cover work for the capsule’s first flights to lunar space.
Lockheed received a stopgap contract to begin that work back in February. Negotiations on a final contract extension are expected to wrap up sometime this year, Kraft said. She declined to provide the value of the stopgap contract.
The White House requested about $1 billion for Orion in 2014, an amount that House appropriators matched in a spending bill now awaiting a floor vote. Senate appropriators, who ignored the effect of across-the-board sequestration cuts that are still in effect, provided $1.2 billion for Orion.
Meanwhile, although Martin’s report focused on Orion, it also reiterated an oft-repeated point: The money NASA has said it will spend on SLS, Orion and associated ground systems is not enough to stage a mission to any extraterrestrial surface.
“Given the time and money necessary to develop landers and associated systems, it is unlikely that NASA would be able to conduct any surface exploration missions until the late 2020s at the earliest,” the report says. “NASA astronauts will be limited to orbital missions using” Orion.
One such mission, proposed by the White House, is the Asteroid Redirect Mission, in which NASA would send a robotic craft to capture a small asteroid and deliver it to lunar orbit. Astronauts aboard Orion would then visit the asteroid to collect samples while testing the spacecraft’s performance in an environment far from the Earth.
The mission has not generated much enthusiasm in Congress. Legislation drafted in the House would bar NASA from spending any money on the mission, while a companion bill in the Senate is silent on the matter.
two fails and now spaceX goes sideways... as planedAugust 15, 2013
Star of NASA Planet Hunting Falls Idle With Broken Parts
By DENNIS OVERBYE
NASA said Thursday that its celebrated planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft, which broke down in May when a reaction wheel that controls its pointing failed, could not be fixed and would never again search for planets around other stars.
The disappointing news brings to an end, for now, one phase of the most romantic of space dreams, the search for other Earths among the exoplanets of the Milky Way. NASA has already asked astronomers for ideas on how to use the hobbled spacecraft, whose telescope is in perfect shape.
Even as they mourned the end of Kepler, astronomers said its legacy would continue as they worked their way through a trove of data the spacecraft has gathered.
At last count, Kepler had discovered 3,548 possible planets, and 135 of them — some smaller than the Earth — have been validated by other observations, including earthbound telescopes. But hundreds or thousands more are in the pipeline, said William Borucki of NASA’s Ames Research Laboratory in Mountain View, Calif., Kepler’s originator and principal investigator.
“The most exciting discoveries are going to come in the next few years as we search through this data,” Mr. Borucki said on Thursday in a telephone news conference. “In the next few years we’re going to be able to answer the questions that inspired Kepler: Are Earthlike planets common or rare in the galaxy?”
Kepler was launched into an orbit around the Sun in March 2009. Its official mission was to determine the fraction of stars in the galaxy that harbor Earthlike planets by carrying out a survey of some 150,000 stars in the constellations of Cygnus and Lyra, looking for the dips in starlight caused by planets passing, or transiting, in front of their suns.
Three dips, or transits, are considered the criteria for a planet candidate, which means the Earth or a planet in a similar orbit that was habitable would take three years to show up. Accordingly, Kepler was designed to operate for four years, but other sunlike stars turned out to be more jittery in their output than expected, making the detection of Earth analogues more difficult. Since astronomers could learn a lot more from Kepler if it went on collecting data, the decision was made last year to extend the spacecraft’s mission for three more years, until 2016.
So far Kepler’s mission has cost $600 million, and its budget for the 2013 fiscal year is about $18 million.
Among its finds were a planet nicknamed Tatooine, after the “Star Wars” planet with two suns, otherwise known as Kepler 16b, the first one found that orbits two stars at once. Another was the so-called Styrofoam planet, which is again half as large as Jupiter but so puffed up by the heat of its star that it is only one-tenth as dense.
The closest Kepler has come to finding another Earth was in April, when the team discovered a pair of planets about half again as big as the Earth orbiting a yellow star, now known as Kepler 62, that is 1,200 light years away. Both planets reside in the “Goldilocks” zone where temperatures should be lukewarm and suitable for liquid water and thus life as we imagine it.
By then, however, Kepler was already in trouble.
In order to do its job of precisely monitoring starlight, Kepler has to keep pointing accurately enough so that each star in the field of view stays on the same pixel in the detector, equivalent to pinpointing a soccer ball in Central Park as seen from San Francisco.
Kepler was launched with four reaction wheels, essentially gyroscopes, of which three are needed to keep it pointed. Last summer, one wheel showed signs of too much friction and was shut down. A second wheel failed in May, putting the spacecraft into safe mode and jeopardizing the exoplanet search.
Astronomers began to sing dirges. Geoffrey W. Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley, dashed off a poem, which said, in part, “Let jet airplanes circle at night overhead/ Sky-writing over Cygnus: Kepler is dead.”
NASA engineers spent several months trying to resurrect Kepler’s pointing ability. “We had very little hope it was actually going to be recoverable,” said Charles Sobeck, a Kepler deputy project manager, who compared the problem to a stuck wheel on a supermarket shopping cart.
They managed to get both faulty reaction wheels spinning again, but with too much friction. Last week, when they tried to make the spacecraft point, it went into safe mode after a few hours, making it clear that Kepler’s planet-hunting days were over.
“I believe they left no stone unturned,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s director of astrophysics, in the news conference announcing the end of the rescue effort.
NASA is now pondering ways in which the telescope can be used with two reaction wheels. In one mode, stars would drift across the detector “like a lost nomadic tribe migrating across the Sahara,” in the words of Dr. Marcy.
Letters looking for ideas have gone out to astronomers, and NASA might eventually convene a review panel to consider future Kepler operations in competition with other science projects, Dr. Hertz said.
Meanwhile, astronomers continue to pore over the flood of data that is still in the Kepler pipeline. Mr. Borucki — speaking with the relentless optimism of a man who spent 20 years getting Kepler designed, approved and into space — said that Kepler could still perform its prime directive of measuring the frequency of Earthlike planets in the galaxy, albeit with poorer statistical certainty than he would have liked. It would take about three more years of data analysis, he said.
“We’re going have to dig down hard to find those planets — we know we can do it,” Mr. Borucki said.
When he conceived the mission 20 years ago, he said, no one knew if there were any planets out there in the galaxy. “Now at the completion,” he said, “we know our galaxy is filled to the brim with planets. When you look up at the sky and see it filled with stars, most of those stars have planets.”
Latest SpaceX Rocket Test Successfully Goes Sideways
By KENNETH CHANG
Imagine taking a 10-story building, launching it, angling it so that it shifts 330 feet to the side as it rises 820 feet into the air – and then landing it on the same spot it started.
That is essentially what the rocket scientists at Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, the company commonly known as SpaceX, did on Tuesday in their latest effort to develop a rocket that can be used again and again. Currently rockets are used just once, with the first stage disintegrating as it falls back to Earth. This bothers Elon Musk, the chief executive of SpaceX, who likens it to building a 747, flying it cross-country and then throwing it away.
A reusable rocket would make it less expensive to get to orbit, but generating the energy needed to lift off from Earth and accelerate to 17,500 miles per hour — the speed needed to stay in orbit — is a major challenge. NASA’s space shuttles partially solved that problem with reusable orbiters and rocket boosters, but the result was so complicated and fragile that it ended up costing more money than throwaway rockets would have.
In 2010, on the first two flights of its Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX attempted to use parachutes to recover the first stage, without success. Mr. Musk then changed strategies. Instead of parachutes, the rocket engines on the first stage would fire again after separating from the second stage, and the first stage would fly back to the launching pad.
To execute this strategy, SpaceX built a test vehicle called the Grasshopper, which it started testing late last year, with each flight a bit higher and more challenging than the last. The latest flight demonstrated more pronounced steering maneuvers in moving to the side. The launching took place at SpaceX’s testing site in Central Texas.
It was reminiscent of flights two decades ago of an earlier reusable spacecraft called the Delta Clipper Experimental, or DC-X, which was built by McDonnell Douglas. First financed by the defense department, for servicing of orbiting space weapons, and then by NASA, the DC-X made a dozen flights between 1993 and 1996. A landing strut failure and a fire on the last flight badly damaged the rocket, and NASA decided not to build another. Veterans from that program are gathering in New Mexico this weekend for a conference commemorating the 20th anniversary of the first DC-X flight.
Delta Clipper Experimental Advanced (DCXA) Reusable Launch Vehicle
SpaceX is still a long way from what it needs for a practical reusable rocket. On a Falcon 9 flight, the first stage separates at an altitude of about 50 miles, hundreds of miles from the launching pad while traveling thousands of miles per hour. The first stage would have to slow down, turn around, re-enter the lower atmosphere and retrace its trajectory before setting back down.
There is no great genius without a mixture of madness.
This is a complex matter. I think a major reason for the US to stay with water landings is that they are used to it. The very first jump from Cape Canaveral in 1961 ended quite naturally in the Atlantic Ocean. And if something goes wrong during the return from orbit, well the ocean is a very big place to hit.
The Soviet Union didn't have nearby oceans but it had huge areas in Kazakhstan with lots of wheat and few people where once a capsule landed some 400 km ( 250 mi. ) from the intended place. And the Soviet and Chinese capsules must still be able to splash down in water. During the one time a Soyuz launch failed the capsule with two men ended up in a very cold lake in Siberia where they had to wait IIRC 5 hours before being rescued.
As a resuilt of their landings the Russian Space program issued some thing not seen in their american Counter parts survival equipment. Small arms
TP-82 : Russian space pistol / shotgun / carbine / flare gun no longer being carried into space | The Firearm Blog
Even today the Russian flight crews carry small arms though today it's likely a more conventional Semiautomatic pistol
American crews may have carried only a flare gun.
There is no great genius without a mixture of madness.
The question would be also whether the American reentry capsule is designed to land safely on ground terrain. There're footage of the Shenzhou doing a roll or two in one of the landings. It's able to do this because of its rounded shape in contrast to the flat sided American capsule .
I had this question too, other than that for the even more critical parachute deployment. I was thinking there're probably backup, emergency systems already built in to deal with such emergency.I don't know if this is the case but watching the last Shenzhou landing they have a last second rocket boost to slow it down right before it touches ground. Do you need that for a water landing? Just imagine the last second rocket boost failed. There's probably going to be some injuries.
The Orion as originally designed was capable of Landing on solid ground. however NASA chose for reasons of Cost and simplicity to eliminate that requirement in favor of water landings. Remember 75% of the earths Surface is covered in water. Water also acts as a cushion remember there is still some shock on landing. The US Could use a ground landing they choose Water. American Astronauts train extensively in water and the Ocean.
Now as Entertaining as it might be to have a Capsule land on Land also bare in mind Russia is the largets county by land volume on the Planet with 16,377,742 square Kms The PRC is the Third with 9,569,901 square Km's. the US is smaller with 9,158,960 square KM's but 470,131 square Km's of ocean. add to this that the Us operates the largest naval fleet in the world, And Ocean based recoverys become a better and better option then having the capsule land in the more or less hostile expanses of Alaska or the Mohave.
There is no great genius without a mixture of madness.
They stayed in the capsule until recovered. I actually saw some recoveries on Tv..Either way if I were an astronaut/cosmonaut, I would much rather deal with wolves, Siberian tigers, and bears than sharks in the water after reentry and landing on earth
Back in the 60s & 70s ocean landings were the only way NASA manned spacecraft were recovered. In 40 manned missions only one capsule sank but was later salvaged. Mercury-Redstone "Liberty Bell 7" sank when the hatch blew off. USN CDR V. "Gus" Grissom was safely recovered by an helo from USS Randolph (CVS 15)
Watch this video of the flight of Liberty Bell 7.
Recuse starts at about 23:00
Last edited by bd popeye; 08-18-2013 at 01:41 PM.
AkihabaraNews | Asia tech news sourceJAXA - Epsilon Rocket - Launch Rehearsal Begins
by Yoriko Takahashi August 21, 2013 - 13:15
JAXA - Epsilon Rocket - Launch Rehearsal Begins
Yesterday, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), for the first time, unveiled their Epsilon rocket and began launch rehearsal in preparation for a scheduled August 27th launch.
Epsilon is a low-cost, high-performance, solid-fuel rocket co-developed by JAXA and IHI AEROSPACE Co.,Ltd. and designed to launch scientific satellites.
Epsilon features the world's first innovative launch system called "Mobile Launch Control" which allows for built-in checks to be conducted autonomously within the rocket's system. This allows staff to focus on high-level monitoring, making overall performance very smooth.
A spokesman joked that it is so easy to control that staff could monitor the rocket on their laptops while at Starbucks.
Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser receives $15 million more from NASA - Boulder Daily CameraSierra Nevada's Dream Chaser receives $15 million more from NASA
By Kristen Leigh Painter
The Denver Post
POSTED: 08/19/2013 12:37:17 PM MDT | UPDATED: 3 DAYS AGO
An artists rendering of Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser. (Handout)
NASA has added two more milestones to Louisville-based Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Space Systems' Dream Chaser program, totaling $15 million additional dollars for its development.
SNC's Space Act Agreement under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative was amended last week, bringing the Dream Chaser program's value to $227.5 million.
"SNC is pleased to be awarded this new NASA investment and we will make valuable use of the additional $15 million in funding," said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC's Space Systems, in a news release. "The addition of these two funded milestones will allow our team to continue the advancement of the Dream Chaser Space System."
These optional milestones extend SNC's period of performance from May 2014 to August 2014, specifically funding the Critical Design Review (CDR) for the vehicle and extra testing on the reaction control system.
Sierra Nevada is one of three companies still receiving funding under the CCiCap initiative, which is designed to help U.S. companies develop spacecraft and rocket combinations capable of launching from U.S. soil. The Louisville company is the only one building a resusable, lifting body vehicle that can land on a runway.
Engage! Warp Drive Could Become Reality with Quantum-Thruster Physics
by Miriam Kramer, Staff Writer | August 21, 2013 05:46am ET
A ring-shaped warp drive device could transport a football-shape starship (center) to effective speeds faster than light.
Pin It A ring-shaped warp drive device could transport a football-shape starship (center) to effective speeds faster than light. The concept was first proposed by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre.
Credit: Harold White
View full size image
DALLAS — Warp-drive technology, a form of "faster than light" travel popularized by TV's "Star Trek," could be bolstered by the physics of quantum thrusters — another science-fiction idea made plausible by modern science.
NASA scientists are performing experiments that could help make warp drive a possibility sometime in the future from a lab built for the Apollo program at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
A warp-drive-enabled spacecraft would look like a football with two large rings fully encircling it. The rings would utilize an exotic form of matter to cause space-time to contract in front of and expand behind them. Harold "Sonny" White, a NASA physicist, is experimenting with these concepts on a smaller scale using a light-measuring device in the lab. [Warp Drives and Transporters: How 'Star Trek' Tech Works (Infographic)]
Indian launch cancelled over fuel leak
By: ZACH ROSENBERG WASHINGTON DC 07:15 19 Aug 2013 Source: Flight global
The return-to-flight launch of the Indian Geostationary Launch Vehicle (GSLV) was scrubbed due to a leak in the second stage fuel system, according to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
It was to be the return-to-flight of the GSLV II, an enlarged and refined version of the less-powerful Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. Though the GSLV has attempted launches a total of six times, the latest marks only the second attempt to launch GSLV II. The first attempt, in 2010, ended in failure.
The leak evidently originates from the system that supplies unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) fuel to the second stage's single Vikas engine, discovered as the tanks were being pressurised only two hours prior to scheduled launch.
The flight was meant to launch GSAT 14, a satellite built to test and operate indigenously-built Ku- and C-band communications antennas. The GSLV was de-fueled and rolled back to the assembly facility for repairs. A new flight date has not been announced.NASA adds goals for commercial crew participants
By: ZACH ROSENBERG WASHINGTON DC 07:08 15 Aug 2013 Source: Flight Global
NASA is adding four milestones for commercial crew integrated capability (CCiCap), worth a total of $55 million.
Sierra Nevada Corporation will get two additional milestones to work on its Dream Chaser lifting body: $5 million for an Incremental Critical Design Review due in October and $10 million for Incremental Reaction Control System Testing, due in July 2014.
The company has recently announced completing ground-based tow tests, the final steps before airborne captive-carry tests leading up to a glide flight. The company expects to complete the glide flight before the end of 2013.
SpaceX will receive $20 million for Dragon Parachute Testing, due in November. Parachutes are used to slow the Dragon capsule during descent once in the atmosphere.
Boeing will receive $20 million for a Spacecraft Safety Review due in July 2014.
CCiCap is due to wrap up in 2014, bringing all three participants up to Critical Design Review (CDR), the final design review before building the vehicle. The contest is meant to be followed shortly by the recently-announced commercial crew transportation capability (CCtCap), which will fund one or two of the participants through construction and several flights.
There is no great genius without a mixture of madness.
ComercialBBC News - Virgin spaceship passes technical milestoneVirgin spaceship passes technical milestone
7 September 2013 Last updated at 17:44 BST
What looks like being the world's first commercial space plane has just passed another technical milestone.
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has just flown faster and higher than ever before on its journey to take ordinary, fare-paying customers 70 miles above the earth.
The first passengers should be floating around in zero gravity in around a year's time.
Transport correspondent Richard Westcott reports.
And already in trouble... Ah laddie....NASA Spacecraft Cruising to Moon With Novel Design
by Miriam Kramer, Staff Writer | September 09, 2013 11:40am ET
A NASA spacecraft journeying to the moon is getting there in style with never-before-used spacecraft design.
The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) launched toward the moon Friday (Sept. 6) in a dazzling nighttime liftoff. The mission, which is aimed at exploring long-standing mysteries of the moon's atmosphere and lunar dust, is also the first test of the NASA's new "Modular Common Spacecraft Bus" design.
The new design could have wide-reaching effects on the way that space agency engineers craft spacecraft in the future, potentially making missions more cost effective, efficient and faster, NASA officials said.
"LADEE’s common bus is an innovative concept that brings NASA a step closer to multi-use designs and assembly line production, while moving away from custom design," S. Pete Worden, the director of NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., said in a statement. "This mission will put the common bus design to the test. This same common bus can be used on future missions to explore other destinations, including voyages to orbit and land on the moon, low-Earth orbit, and near-Earth objects."
In the past, NASA engineers have developed spacecraft from the ground up for each unique mission, but the $280 million LADEE moon mission marks a change in that method. Instead of creating a very specific spacecraft for the mission, NASA officials took a more generalized approach.
LADEE is created from a series of general purpose modules can be mixed and matched to fit many robotic mission parameters in the solar system.
"NASA is looking for affordable ways to launch often and inexpensively," David Korsmeyer, director of engineering at NASA Ames, said in a statement. "We can use off-the-shelf components because customized components are expensive to continually develop and improve. If these systems work successfully, NASA will be looking for other commercial technologies to use for space exploration."
Just after its flawless Friday night launch, LADEE encountered a technical glitch after separating from the Minotaur V rocket that carried it into space.
LADEE's onboard computer shut down the spacecraft's reaction wheels used to stabilize the probe's attitude because they were drawing too much current. Engineers got the wheels up and running again the next day.
The spacecraft's design actually saved the probe from a potentially more serious situation.
LADEE's solar panels are integrated into the body of the craft unlike many spacecraft that need to deploy folding panels for power. Because of its design, engineers didn't need to immediately correct the attitude of the craft, allowing them some extra time to figure out the situation.
"If [the spacecraft] is spinning in some way and the panels aren't getting any sunlight, you would have to do something really quick," Worden said after launch. "One of the nice things about this design is that you [didn't need] to do things suddenly."
The LADEE spacecraft the first ever designed, integrated, built and tested by NASA's Ames Research Center, according to space agency officials.
Follow Miriam Kramer @mirikramer and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on SPACE.com.
And they need the savings form that program why?NASA LADEE Status Report 7 September 2013
Status Report Source: Ames Research CenterPosted Saturday, September 7, 2013
NASA has confirmed that the reaction wheels of its Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) were successfully brought back on-line and the spacecraft has acquired its safe-mode attitude profile.
Last night during technical checkouts the LADEE spacecraft commanded itself to shut down the reaction wheels used to position and stabilize the spacecraft. According to the LADEE mission operations team at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., this was determined to be the result of fault protection limits put in place prior to launch to safeguard the reaction wheels. The limits that caused the powering off of the wheels soon after activation were disabled, and reaction wheel fault protection has been selectively re-enabled.
"Our engineers will determine the appropriate means of managing the reaction wheel fault protection program. Answers will be developed over time and will not hold up checkout activities," said Butler Hine, LADEE project manager.
"The initial checkout flight procedure is progressing," said S. Pete Worden, Ames center director. "The reaction wheel issue noted soon after launched was resolved a few hours later. The LADEE spacecraft is healthy and communicating with mission operators."
The spacecraft was successfully launched at 11:27 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 6, from Pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va. LADEE is on its way to arrive at the moon in 30 days, then enter lunar orbit.
LADEE is managed by NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.
Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.
New NASA rocket faces delays
September 6, 2013|By Mark K. Matthews, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — The debut launch of NASA's next big rocket — now slated for 2017 — likely will be delayed a year or two because the agency simply does not have the money to finish the rocket and its accompanying crew capsule on time, a top NASA official said Friday.
Lori Garver, leaving NASA after four years as deputy administrator, said NASA and Congress long have oversold the agency's ability to build the rocket, called the Space Launch System, and its Orion capsule on an annual budget of roughly $3 billion."It's very clear that we could have slips of a year or two," said Garver, referring to both the 2017 launch — which won't have a crew — and the first planned flight of NASA astronauts aboard the SLS rocket in 2021.
"People are more optimistic than … reality," she said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.
If she's right, the double delay would mean more heartburn for Kennedy Space Center, which has been reeling since the 2011 retirement of the space shuttle caused the loss of thousands of jobs. It would also be another setback for NASA's human-spaceflight program, which hasn't built a new rocket in more than 30 years and relies on Russia to transport astronauts to the International Space Station.
And perhaps worse, Garver and other critics say, the agency's quixotic bid to build the largest rocket in history will gut other NASA programs, such as probes to further planetary science.
"NASA is going to unilaterally give up on [visiting] the outer planets," said Casey Dreier, a policy analyst with The Planetary Society, a space-advocacy group.
In response to Garver, NASA released a statement saying that the budget submitted by the White House to Congress "fully funds the Space Launch System and Orion to launch in 2017 as planned."
That stance was echoed by a top Boeing official. Boeing is building the "core stage" of the rocket, which resembles the shuttle with two booster rockets on either side of an external tank. The main difference is that the planelike orbiter is gone, replaced by a crew capsule atop the core stage.
"I have not heard even rumors of slips on this SLS rocket. In fact, my schedule looks five months ahead of schedule. That's across the board," said Virginia Barnes, Boeing's program manager for the SLS rocket.
But Garver said she has math and history on her side.
NASA has a lengthy record of schedule delays and cost overruns, starting with the agency's now-defunct Constellation moon program, which was to land a human on the moon by 2020. NASA spent five years and $13 billion on that project before President Barack Obama canceled it in 2010 — though pieces of Constellation, including the Orion capsule, remain as part of the current program.
Constellation collapsed despite annual spending of nearly $3 billion — about what is being spent on SLS and Orion today — and NASA said it actually needed more than twice that amount. But there's no hope in today's constrained budget of spending that much on SLS and Orion.
"NASA still has too much on its plate," said Garver, who joined the agency in 2009 along with Administrator Charlie Bolden. "We came here trying to avoid that, and I'm afraid we're headed back in that direction."One sign of trouble was revealed last month when NASA's inspector general — who acts as the agency's watchdog — released a report that highlighted problems with Orion's heat shield, as well as efforts to get the capsule's weight below a 73,500-pound maximum.
"The [Orion] Program faces significant risks in meeting NASA's goal of human exploration beyond low Earth orbit," the report said.
Thanks to across-the-board cuts known as sequestration, NASA's 2013 budget was reduced to less than $16.9 billion. If similar cuts come in future years — which is a strong possibility — NASA will have to choose between delaying SLS or cutting smaller programs, said Garver and others.
Already there are signs that other programs are being squeezed to protect a few big-ticket items — the largest of which is SLS and Orion.
For example, despite a $900 million cut to NASA's budget in 2013, the agency reduced its $3 billion budget for SLS and Orion by only about 4 percent, or $118 million.
By contrast, about $229 million, or 15 percent, was slashed from the planetary science division — which sends probes to other planets. Because of these cutbacks, Dreier said NASA can't attempt operations such as a proposed mission to launch a NASA "ship" to explore a liquid sea on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn.
And given NASA's history of cost overruns, Dreier said, development of SLS and Orion ultimately could lead to the cancellation of more NASA missions.
"It's a worry that everyone has in the space community — that it's going to consume NASA's budget internally," he said.
There is no great genius without a mixture of madness.
This is exciting stuff. They arleady have 600 people signed up to take the $200,000 flight and are looking to get 1,000 which they probably will. Then they will look at building more and lowering prices.
If all of that is successful, they intend to develop a paying point to point sub-orbital shuttle service. A sub-orbital airline so to speak. London the Sydney in 2 12 hours. If they can do this safely (andthat is yet to be seen) we will see others get into the act, and things that were sci-fi for me as a youth, will be coming to pass.
Heck, that's already happening with the video-phone calls/conferencing, with Skype, with the rail gun technology about to be produced and the laser weapons. Just an amazing time to be alive, despite whatever other hrdships and troubles.